We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
It’s time for me to look back. Think of this as a “Best of Jeff Bayer.” But for your sake, and mine, I won’t be focusing on me. Instead, I thought it was time for me to actually figure out the question, “Who is your favorite interview of all time?” People ask, and I don’t have an answer. Mainly, that’s because I have an awful memory. This week, I added to the list with Ewan McGregor and Mike Mills for the film Beginners. I also have interviews with Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning and all of the boys in Super 8. I’ll link to those interviews when they’re up. Until then, here’s the TOP 7 Favorite Interviews (by Jeff Bayer).
7. Gavin Hood interview for Tsotsi
Reason: You don’t forget your first. I was nervous as hell and had no idea what I was doing. With my questions prepared and hands shaking I learned how this crazy world of interviewing worked. With print, you get 20 minutes. With TV, you get five minutes (if you’re lucky). Hood answered everything I asked, and I walked away relieved I remembered to hit the record button. I also finally met a Oscar nominee, and a few weeks later, he won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. It was a great start for me.
6. Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman interviews for Kung Fu Panda 2
Reason: It’s easy to admit, but I like the legends. Hoffman is the most celebrated, acclaimed actor I have had the honor of sitting down with. Jack Black was in the room as well, and that actually didn’t hurt a thing. Hoffman was full of energy. When I walked in, he looked me up and down and said, “What are you? 6’6″?” He nailed it. Most importantly, with slight prompting, he said one of the famous lines he’s known for from Midnight Cowboy. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone.
5. Christian Bale interview for 3:10 to Yuma
Reason: Everything he said just sounded tougher. After all, this was, and still is Batman. While he’s not been recognized like Hoffman, that’s only because he’s not that old yet. This is a kid actor who has absolutely had some reported difficulties on set (Terminator: Salvation) and off (his family), but you can’t argue with his body of theatrical work. It’s insanely impressive. Plus, with this interview, I started things off in an insane direction; I talked about my tonsils.
I sat down with Batman and talked about my tonsils. Sure, movie star Christian Bale is currently filming “The Dark Knight,” the follow-up to “Batman Begins,” and he might have better things to talk about (and don’t worry, we did) but I had just had mine removed four days before the interview took place at the Four Seasons downtown.
4. Johnny Depp interview for Rango
Reason: He’s just cool. I didn’t mind he was taking a long lunch. I waited. I was first in line when he returned. Everything about him seemed at ease. I understand Depp doesn’t have much to worry about, but somehow he was overdoing the calm/cool/collected. Plus, he talked about playing Carol Channing. I don’t think anyone else got that from him on that day.
3. Molly Shannon interview for Year of the Dog and “Saturday Night Live”
Reason: I love “Saturday Night Live.” Shannon is the first cast member I was able to interview. One day, I’ll do them all. No, I’m not talking about interviews. Anyway, since I love SNL, talking to Shannon before she was set to host, I decided to use that time to give her suggestions. Guess what? To this day, I will be convinced I helped influence an episode. Shannon barely ever did Jeannine Darcy on SNL. You’d really only remember character if you bought “The Best of Molly Shannon.” Amy Poehler hadn’t portrayed Kaitlin for about a year, but there she was with Shannon as her mother. Yes, I suggested both things to Shannon.
Bayer: For one weekend with friends we quoted your character Jeannine Darcy (a very dry stand-up comedian) probably a million times — “Don’t get me started, don’t even get me started.”
Shannon: That is probably one of my favorite characters. Thank you. That is a huge compliment. It was kind of a reaction against comedy, because I did it at the very end ’cause I was sick of trying to get laughs and kick up my legs. So I wanted to do a really dull comic, who’s probably a lesbian who hasn’t come out of the closet, she’s very emotionally cut off, but doing straight comedy and she SUCKS. But she has a lot of hope and is driven, but she really doesn’t have the talent. When I first did it, I was trying to do something where you weren’t getting laughs. It was more subtle.
2. Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Bradley Cooper interviews for The Hangover
Reason: Sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. In hindsight, this interview, correction, this weekend, was amazing. Only all I could think about was losing. The interview took place in Las Vegas at the Caesar’s Palace. Friday night I saw the movie. After that it was on to a poker tournament I (and other press) were allowed to play in. I was at Ed Helms’ table and never got good cards. Never. I slow played as long as I could, but when you have first timers … OK, no one wants to hear me complain about poker. I lost. Galifianakis and his dad (they were a team) won. After that I almost headed to my room. Instead, I sat down at a $25 blackjack table (real money this time) and played with the boys. Somehow, even though I never won, I barely lost. Helms was fun, Galifianakis was quiet. Most enjoyable was Todd Phillips. He swooped in every 30 minutes or so, and bet $500 a hand. They next day, Ed greeted me with a “Hey, Jeff” when I walked in the room. It was a good trip.
1. Shia LaBeouf interview from Disturbia
Reason: I started the interview like this “Shia (Shy-a) LaBeouf (La-Buff).” That’s because LaBeouf wasn’t a household name. Not yet. This was just before Transformers. This was just before big-time fame. He was excited to talk about anything and everything and that’s exactly what we did. He didn’t have that sound bite filter that develops for these guys over time. Sure, we talked about Transformers and Indiana Jones 4 (it didn’t have a title yet), but it’s the tease I’ll give you below that really had me fascinated.
Bayer: With the show “Even Stevens,” did you take that job to support your family financially?
Shia: Absolutely. It was not about acting at that point (LaBeouf was 12). My dad was a drug dealer and my mom sold brooches, so nobody had a real job. There was no week-by-week type thing.